2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure First Look

I normally review fitness gadgets but I think my new 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure falls into a close enough category.  Okay, not really but adventure and journeys go together so why not?  Also, I thought it would be beneficial to share my experience with the car with those who may be considering purchasing it.  It’s always nice to read reviews from actual owners of vehicles over those that just drive a car for a couple of minutes and give their usual snotty opinions about its appearance and performance.

Adventure badge on back of car

Also, there are some car models that are going to have their loyal fan base.  Most cars are very similar to each other (I can’t identify most of them) and one is as good as another for utilitarian purposes but then there are those vehicles that appeal on a different level.  The RAV4 Adventure is that type of car.  It’s not for everyone but who it is for is going to love it.

I loved this car from the first couple minutes of test driving it and I haven’t felt that type of love for a car in a long, long time.  The last car I really loved was my first car, a 1978 Pontiac Phoenix.  We just clicked.  It was magic, even though I had to keep the speed below 55 mph to prevent the engine from cracking in half.  I half-suspect that my dad particularly liked that quality about the car for his then 16-year old daughter but I went on to drive that car for another 9 years.

Only I could have kept that engine going for so long.  Only I could have had the patience to keep such a car that long and that’s because I loved that car.  My  other cars, though more reliable were just practical, arranged marriages.  I drove them and they took me places and that’s about it.  I traded them off when they still had good trade-in value and moved onto the next.  Now I’m in love again… and this time I can drive my love over 55 mph.

Yes, I know this all sounds ridiculous but it’s so nice to have a car again that I really dig.

I have no idea how many seconds it takes to get from 0-60 mph but I do know that if I put it into sport mode it gets up and goes!  Usually, I’m driving in economy mode to save gas but when I get tired of that, or I’m in traffic in which I need more power to merge or keep from getting run over, I put it into sport mode and I can maneuver my way out of the pack.  Even with a car load of passengers the RAV4 has plenty of power.

Eco Mode results in better gas mileage while Sport mode provides more get up and go

My 2010 RAV4 didn’t and I was hesitant to purchase another one for that reason.  Plus, I had many issues with it, such as a camshaft that went bad, luckily when it was still under warranty.  That would have been a $1500 – $2000 repair bill.  Even after it was repaired it sounded like a jack hammer when I started it.  I can’t count all the recall notices I got in the mail.  I got tired of taking it in and I traded it off with 3 or 4 recalls that hadn’t been taken care of yet.

Obviously, I’m hoping the 2018 version is much better.  Toyota’s are usually known for their reliability and everyone I know has had a good experience.  I was the rare exception.  So, last June I purchased a 2017 Jeep Cherokee when I traded in the 2010 RAV4 but I didn’t care for the 9-speed transmission that never seemed to shift right.  It was slow to get up and go and it went into neutral twice when I had it in reverse backing down the driveway.  After six months, I decided to go back to Toyota.

There were a lot of things I liked about the Jeep Cherokee.  I preferred its interior and overall build quality.  It was also a dream to drive on the Interstate.  It ate up the hills.  I had opted for the V6 , which I highly recommend since it’s a heavy car, and it had no problem with power as far as the engine went.  It was just that darn transmission that had a mind of its own.  I never knew if it was going to take off when I pressed the gas pedal or if it was going to think about it for a while and maybe go.

Thus, I was very happy when I test drove the RAV4 and it had some pep to it.  I just don’t like cars that are slow to take off.  I don’t like ones that are herky jerky and spin their wheels either but when I press the gas pedal I want the car to move.  Call me picky.  The RAV4 accelerates nicely.

RAV4 Adventure Black
RAV4 Adventure Front View

So, what’s different about the RAV4 Adventure from other RAV4 packages?  The main differences are that it has blacked out trim features.  The wheels are black, as well as the roof rails, and surrounds for the headlights and foglights.  It also has rocker guards and larger fender flares for off-roading, though I doubt many people will use it for this purpose.  It sits up a half-inch higher than other RAV4s for ground clearance.  But probably the feature it’ll most be recognized for is the black racing stripe on the hood.  That’s what caught my eye first.

The interior is also slightly different in that it has rubber floor mats to handle mud and water and a customized gear shift with the Adventure logo.  Snakeskin patterned trim here and there gives it some more added character.  The Adventure also comes standard with a tow package and you’ll be able to tow more with the AWD version. I got the front wheel drive because I prefer the handling and I don’t really need AWD for the part of the country I live in.  Not many hills or mountains around Central Illinois.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Keyless entry and ignition
Armrest details
Adventure logo gear shift knob

Mostly, the RAV4 Adventure is for the outdoor enthusiast which would certainly describe me.  It’ll be carrying my kayak and hiking gear as well as groceries and kids.  The backseat folds down for plenty of room when transporting larger items.  The 2010 RAV4 had more cargo space since the spare tire was on the outside of the vehicle and  I miss having that extra space.

The 2017 Jeep Cherokee had a better ride on bumpy roads.  You’ll feel a lot of road imperfections in a RAV4.  I think the steering is very responsive.  You’ll be able to get it into and out of about any parking space.  It has a fairly quiet interior.  I don’t notice road or wind noise in it like I have with other cars. It can technically fit five people but only if those three sitting in the back want to sit together very closely.  For practical purposes, it’s really a 4-passenger car.

Toyota makes safety equipment standard on its vehicles and I am loving the lane assist features.  Lights flash in the side mirrors to let me know vehicles are coming up on my right or left side.  It also will let me know when I’m backing out of a parking spot if a car is coming towards me.  I especially love the cruise control feature that keeps me a safe distance from the car in front of me by automatically adjusting the speed.  That is very handy.  The RAV4 gets high marks for its safety rating.

I’ve never had a black car before but I have a feeling it’ll require hand washing and waxing but that’s okay.  I can have fun doing that.  I haven’t had a car I’ve wanted to hand wash in years!  I’ve yet to put a thousand miles on it so I don’t want to call this a review but rather a first look.  Typically, Toyota is known for durability so I’m not expecting issues but we’ll see.  Another good reason to buy a Toyota is their resell value.  I got a nice trade-in value for my 2010 RAV4 while I didn’t get much for my 2017 Jeep.  It depreciated in value much more quickly.  That may be the best reason to choose a Toyota over Jeep.

Still, every car model has its own fan base.  Some cars only have a fan base of one, as in my first car but to me that’s all that really matters.  I’m in love again.  I just hope it loves me back like my old Pontiac did.  You better be good to me RAV4 Adventure!

Rocker panel
RAV4 Adventure wheels
18″ aluminum black wheels